Dramatic Rythmn in Your Acting Technique

metronome keeping rhythm in acting class

You are probably going to say, “What dramatic rhythm?”

In general, it is important as you work on your acting technique, to ground yourself in the experience – aka your river – then identify the rhythm. 

For drama, there are two main expressions of rhythm. The first is the right back-and-forth rhythm and the second is the build and drop or talking to not talking, then saying your final word. They each have their place. 

Back-and-forth rhythm or the right back is generally done in a heated argument, signifying the building of emotional tension within the experience. Or the back of forth of friends talking, and due to the nature of the depth of their friendship, they almost talk over each other. This is important as the rhythm here is more defined by the pace of the conversation because, in life, we do not wait for other people to stop talking whether it is a long-lost friend or a heated rebuttal to your superior officer. The key that can be overlooked here is where to let it hit you more, or in other words where you are affected more. Be aware of that, in order to know when the pace pulls back.

Now, the build and drop. This is generally found at the end of an experience where the person is making a point. That point could be “why their idea should be the one the company chooses”, or “why their client shouldn’t be convicted of murder” but in either event, there is generally a couple of statements that support their final point, which is usually the last sentence. This can be felt in many movies as the end of the third act comes to the crescendo. If the canoe is flowing to the beat of drums, the drums build their pace until there is a final slap: the person delivers the point that wins them their freedom or job or whatever it is they are fighting for.

At the end of the day, the river (your experience) is always primary but these rhythms are found in all types of film and television and must be adhered to so that the intentions of the writer, through the person in the experience, can be fully realized.

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